Steering the Right Way

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Human beings are better known for having the ability to touch on many subjects at once. This allows us to aim for extensive progression across the board, thus enabling us in terms of achieving a more refined lifestyle. The improvement, however, doesn’t just occur on a personal level. It is also felt on a societal scale. Now, being able to impact our surroundings in a positive way is a big privilege, but unfortunately, we haven’t always used this influence for the benefit of the masses. Instead, time and again, we have shown a tendency to put our self-interests over the greater good. While such a reality isn’t a death sentence by any means, it does carry enough detriment to cause some irreversible damage within the world’s fabric. Hence, in a bid to avoid such a scenario, we rolled the dice with an idea of dedicated regulation. The intention here was to thwart any malicious attempts before they could go for wider devastation. In hindsight, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that we were successful in our pursuit, but we could only manage a limited amount of success. You see, governance always had its challenges, and when they started appearing alongside technology’s protection, the whole regulatory structure quickly landed in jeopardy. Nevertheless, a much bigger issue appeared on the horizon once people learnt how to manipulate technology into providing brand new tools for fluffing their ill-intentioned motives. Amidst such a scenario, an issue that took the centre stage was of data collection and handling. With different organizations vying to get your personal details, technology’s dark side would soon become apparent. Luckily, though, it looks like we are finally set to steer ourselves in the right direction.

Companies hailing from power, water, cable TV, and telecommunications sectors have jointly decided to not sell any personal customer details to data brokers used by ICE and law enforcement agencies. According to the Washington Post, the decision was revealed in a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Up until now, using their place in National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), these companies would log their customer’s payment history into a shared database. Next up, the logged information used to make its way into the hands of Equifax, a credit bureau that uses your payment history to construct your credit score. This is where it should have stopped, but Equifax has a known history of further passing on the data to CLEAR. In case you are not aware, CLEAR is a personal information database, which ICE investigators access quite often. As one can guess, the setup allows these investigators to gain an unjustified window into your personal information, thus raising real concerns about the state of our privacy. Furthermore, it helps the agencies big time in sidestepping procedures like judicial reviews that are otherwise important for, let’s say, obtaining a warrant and a host of other activities.

“Every branch of government has ignored the corrosive effect of data brokers for decades. Investigations by journalists, researchers and my office have finally shined a light on just how widespread the sale of Americans private data is. I’ve told anyone who will listen that Congress’s top tech priority should be passing strong legislation to protect Americans’ privacy and security,” said Senator, Ron Wyden in his letter to CFPB.

Even though NCTUE has ordered Equifax to call off all data-related deals with CLEAR, the information already on CLEAR’s database will remain accessible.

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